Joseph Lindon Smith (American, 1863 - 1950), Bronze Horses, Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy. Transparent and opaque watercolor over graphite on off-white wove paper. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Denman W. Ross, 1917.142



This virtual exhibition expands on the installations At Cross Purposes: The Crusades in Material Culture, currently on view in the Teaching Gallery of the Harvard Art Museums and the Harvard Fine Arts Library. All three exhibits are anchored on the award-winning Harvard course MEDVLSTD 250: At Cross Purposes: The Crusades in Material Culture. They aim to showcase aspects of the extraordinary transformation of the political, socio-economic, and cultural map of Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East in the context of crusading expeditions in the Holy Land, Spain, and Eastern Europe. Multifaceted encounters between crusaders, Byzantines, Jews, Armenians, and Muslims left precious material traces behind: architecture, Byzantine and Islamic objects dispersed across Western Europe, coins, sculptures, frescoes, and manuscripts from the East and the West. At Cross Purposes: The Crusades in 100 Objects celebrates the importance of materials and the materiality of things, and their power in shaping heritage and defining cultural differences and identities, many of which are still prevalent. The materials, use, reception, adaptation, destruction, and afterlife of crusade-related works of art, monuments, and sites carry their own stories. Such stories transcend rigid taxonomies and categorizations. These stories elicit different emotive responses for each of us, depending on our cultural, linguistic, and geographical association with the past.

We invite you on an exciting journey across time, places, communities, and cultural practices through the lens of 100 objects from the Harvard University Collections. We hope each object can serve as the start of your own discoveries.